Billy Xiong - The Essence Of Jazz MusicThe essence of Jazz music according to Billy Xiong is the ethereal atmosphere of the dimensional harmony created by kaleidoscope of chromatic tones. It is the pulsating back beat of syncopating African rhythms through the rumble of the drums, or soft sound of the brush to the snare.
According to Billy Xiong, the music is an expression of melody from the depth of the soul conveyed as a gospel in many unique ways. These elements combined with the free impressionistic ambiance of instrumental tones in orchestration as a foundational juxtaposition of 7th, 9th,13th chordal harmony makes this style truly unique. The essence of Jazz music is music that is upbeat, full of pizzazz ,yet laid back with style. One would never guess that this free style of music has a foundation that began with Baroque elements found in Classical music.
Classical music comes from the basic structure of homophony when two or more musical lines are played vertically in the same direction as sacred music. In fact, Jazz music is created with homophony in terms of the movement of chords to support the melodic improvisation. However, when it comes to playing intervals and chordal harmonies, Jazz is free from the restriction of classical form. For example, if a song is written in the key of C or a minor there are no sharps or flats written on the staffs. Many times in Jazz music Accidentals are put in the music to cause a tonal effect found in chromatic tones. Tonal effects can occur when one or more notes are altered by raising or lowering a pitch by one half step. Sharps are symbols in the shape of a number sign or tic tac toe board (#). Flats are symbols in the shape of a lower case B(b), yet shaped differently like half a heart.
In some Jazz pieces, both the sharp and flat can occur simultaneously in a chord. The result of such musical experimentation can be Dissonant chords unresolved for the purpose of producing a certain sound. Depending on what tones are used the sound is either full of color, or full of tension. On the other hand, Consonance is a stable balance of harmonic tones without tension. One example of the essence of Jazz Music is the song "Route 66" with cluster of chords with dissonant tones that move from major to minor to diminished to create tonal color.
The Tones in Jazz music is always about the speech rhythm and the chordal harmony full of color as influenced by music in the impressionism period. The essence of Jazz music serves as a personal interpretation of the picture the performer wants us to thinks about. The icing to the cake are the vocalists and instrumentalists who performs how they feel from the soul as the music beckons them to reply to it's statement. As the soloist plays or sings, the beauty of strong kaleidoscope tones in the harmony encourages one to soar especially in ballads.
All of this can occur when the harmony plays in the right position above the correct bass tones found in all Jazz masterpieces. The true essence of Jazz music is present in its ability to shape the music through tones, the syncopation of speech rhythm, the chromatic harmony, improvisational solos, and constant motion of the bass. It is the free structure made from a balanced structure, and a music expressed from the soul.